NBA Heat Check: Pounding the Pistons

John Scriffiny

Pounding the Pistons: How the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy was taken to another level in the matchup between the Pistons and Rockets

Andre Drummond Free Throw
Andre Drummond is not a fluid shooter of the basketball.

The “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy has taken the NBA by storm in the past couple of years, as teams intentionally foul players on the floor who struggle at the free throw line. It originated when Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal played, as players simply could not stop him in the post and resorted to fouling him repeatedly.


The strategy has been repeated against players today, such as Deandre Jordan for the Clippers, Hassan Whiteside for the Heat, Dwight Howard for the Rockets, and, last night, Andre Drummond for the Pistons.

Although the Pistons ended up getting the win Wednesday, Drummond missed an NBA-record 23 free-throws. To put that into perspective, Steph Curry has missed 22 on the season. The Rockets went right into the strategy to start the second half, getting into the penalty (four fouls in a quarter results in two free throws on each resulting foul) in just nine seconds.

It worked for the Rockets, as Drummond went 5-16 from the line and Houston rallied in the third quarter after being down by nine to start the half. As you can see, Drummond can be a force when he isn’t bricking shots at the charity stripe. Fans want to see the dunks by Drummond, not the free throws. This begs the question, should the NBA ban Hack-a-Shaq? 

The original Hack-a-Shaq

There has been a lot of talk about doing something to fix Hack-a-Shaq, but so far, Adam Silver and the folks over at the NBA headquarters haven’t done anything to stop it.

Some NBA talking heads have said that players should just fix their free throws. My argument against this is that if it were that easy, wouldn’t at least one of these infamous brickers have fixed it by now? For some, it’s just a mental thing that they just can’t get past. For others, sure, it might be a lack of effort on working on their free throws. But, I don’t think it’s just something that is going to go away any time soon.

My idea, something ESPN’s Zach Lowe and HBO’s Bill Simmons have mentioned on their podcasts, is why not decline the penalty?

In the NFL, if a team is penalizing in a way that is advantageous, the other team has the option to decline the yardage they would get from that penalty. This could be done in the NBA as well. If someone goes and hugs a poor free throw shooter, the team with said poor free throw shooter should be able to take the foul and the ball, but no free throws.

That way, if the other team continued this strategy, they would just foul out all their players. It would increase the flow of the game and create a better product, which is what the casual fans want, in my opinion. Either way, Adam Silver has a decision to make. ‘Cause that game was gross. 

Collegian NBA Blogger John Scriffiny can be reached online at